Shelby Harris, the oldest verifiable living resident in Illinois and the oldest man in the United States, will celebrate his 111th birthday today, Saturday, with relatives and friends at the Rock Island Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 2545 24th St.
Mr. Harris' day will begin with a birthday lunch of his favorite foods — catfish and collard greens, hush puppies, coleslaw, corn-on-the-cob and sweet potato pie.
The luncheon will be followed by a birthday party at 1 p.m. at the nursing home, where ice cream and cake will be served. Friends, relatives and members of his congregation, Second Baptist Church, will attend. Mr. Harris served as deacon of Second Baptist until he was 102 years old.
Mr. Harris will fulfill one of the wishes left on his "bucket list" Thursday when he throws out the first pitch on opening day for The River Bandits A minor league baseball game at 7 p.m. at Modern Woodmen Park, Davenport. Playing baseball and possibly getting married again are two things left on his list.
Born March 31, 1901, in southern Indiana, Mr. Harris first worked in the coal mines of the region. He moved to the Quad-Cities in 1942 before enlisting in the Army during World War II. He later took a job with the former Union Malleable, later the John Deere Foundry in East Moline.
He entered Rock Island Nursing & Rehabilitation Center when he was 105. He has outlived two wives and three daughters. He is a great-great-great-great grandfather. His youngest grandson is 57.
A grandson, Al Hurt, says his grandfather takes good care of himself and still has a good memory. Mr. Harris is a life-long Democrat, having voted for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Barack Obama in 2008. Mr. Harris credits his longevity to his faith in God.
Today is Thursday, Oct. 2, the 275th day of 2014. There are 90 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The ladies have adopted the fashion of wearing representations of insects in the flowers on their bonnets. Some look very natural. 1889 -- 125 years ago: T.F. Cary, former Rock Island alderman, has accepted a position as salesman for a Chicago wallpaper house and plans to move to that city. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Work on the new telephone building on 18th Street between 6th and 7th avenues is progressing rapidly. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Rock Island's new theater at 3rd Avenue and 19th Street will have a name significant of its location. The "Rocket" is scheduled to open Thanksgiving Day. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Two of Rock Island's newest water towers were vandalized last night, including the one at 38th Street and 31st Avenue, where police took five Moline boys into custody about 9 p.m.. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Some of us who live in the Quad-Cities take the Mississippi River for granted, or at least we used to. But the river is not taken for granted by our visitors. And most Quad-Citians are realizing the importance of the river to this area as increased emphasis is placed on tourism.